Monday, March 19, 2018

Guest Post: Elizabeth Wood Covers Healthy Dining in Birmingham

 If I didn't know better, I'd think that you'd cheated on your "first of the year, gonna start eating healthier" challenge that you set for yourself. It's okay!
There is still time to get back on track. If you have diet restrictions or maybe need to eat a little less of this or that, it can be a real struggle especially if you eat on the go.

When dining out in Birmingham, there can be lots of temptation. After all we have some of the most notables chefs, restaurants and food festivals in the nation.

Check out this article on choosing healthier options while dining out in Birmingham by guest writer Elizabeth Wood, founder, co-owner & baker at The Joyful Food Company.

Eating healthy can be hard enough to do at home, but when you are on the go, it becomes even more difficult. If you have dietary restrictions, it becomes harder still. My family follows a mostly Paleo diet for health reasons. In fact, our health journey was the inspiration that led to me opening The Joyful Food Co. As we've navigated this lifestyle, we've learned a few tricks along the way.

If you are dining out with a group, you may not get a say in where you end up, so it's important to have an idea of what to order in many different situations. If I'm going to a new spot, I like to view the menu ahead of time online and call with any questions--this is especially important if you have a dietary restriction. Try to call during a slower time (not lunch or dinner) so that the person helping you will have more time to answer any questions you have.

Restaurants like steakhouses, BBQ places or popular casual dining spots will typically offer large entree salads that you can top with a grilled or smoked protein. Salad dressings can be a source of lots of extra fat, calories and preservatives, so sometimes, I bring my own along!  If you haven't planned ahead for that, ask for oil and vinegar or olive oil and a lemon wedge to squeeze on your salad. Another safe option is to order a grilled protein with a vegetable, for instance at Redlands Grill, a NY Strip with a side of broccoli would work well!

When going out for Mexican food--Tecate is our local favorite--avoid the chips! Ask the server to not even to bring them--they are too hard to avoid when they're on the table! Fajitas are a great healthy option--choose your favorite protein and ignore the tortillas.  Meat, veggies, salsa, and guacamole are all delicious and much better to fill up on than chips and cheese.

While fast food is definitely a no-no, fast casual eateries are offering lots of healthy options! For instance, at Chipotle, you can even order a Whole30 compliant meal! Their salad, topped with carnitas, pico de gallo and guacamole is hearty and healthy! Most fast casual burger joints offer gluten-free buns for those of us who can't tolerate gluten, however, the healthiest option is to omit the bun altogether! Have them wrap your burger in lettuce or serve it on a bed of greens. Choose sides that aren't fried, if possible. Locally, Baha Burger offers seasonal fruit, FarmBurger offers apples and carrots with sunbutter and Twisted Root offers a pickle bar!

It isn't necessary to become a hermit and miss out on Birmingham's amazing food scene just to be healthy. The more often you try new restaurants, closely examine the menu, and ask questions of the staff, the easier it will get!

If you are gluten intolerant, check out my blog post listing my 10 favorite Birmingham restaurants to get a delicious gluten-free meal!

Elizabeth Wood
Founder, Co-Owner, Baker

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